How often do you change your guitar strings?


I thought I would change my guitar strings at the weekend as I am leading a united church service next week.  I had forgotten how good a new set sounds! 


So I was wondering how often is an optimum time to change strings?


For the record, my last change was at the beginning of 2010, and I guess I was playing 2 hours/week until the summer holidays.


I will need to change more regularly from now on and I estimate I will be playing 3-4 hours/week.  I don't play hard, and rarely break them.  I use a Crafter guitar and my current strings are Rotosound Jumbo King Phospher Bronze Lights.  Coupled with the time to change a set (possibly an hour each time - usually cos I'm listening to the footie on the radio at the same time (that's soccer to you americans), and that it costs me around £6.00 each set, it is not something I can do every week!  (and if anyone says buy them via the Interweb, no way, as I like to support my local music shop; and there is no chance of my church contributing either).


So how often could you suggest a change? 



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I have been told in the past that I need a couple of winds.......was never sure why. Thanks for the info Stevo. What do you mean by 'for those you can thread in and out twice' don't quite understand.

I'll give it a go with less winds. I have to say though I have no tuning issues, and like you said they break in within two or three hours. I don't do (as far as I am aware) any stretching of the strings though.
I don't know mate, I used to think you knew a thing or two until you mentioned half a wind.


3 turns is good the the E and B, 2 turns for the G and D and one or 2 turns for the A and bottom E. The reason for having several winds on the post are to reduce stress where the string is bent >90 degrees exiting the peg hole, prevent the string being pulled through the hole (not necessary if you over-wrap to lock them or have locking tuners) and also (not to be overlooked) to lower the string down the peg and increase break angle over the nut. This last isn't 'necessary, but can help if the nut's badly cut and a bit rattly.

To break strings in it's good the stretch them out around the 12th fret. Tune to pitch after fitting, then pull each string away from the fingerboard until you can feel it's reached the comfy limit of stretch, then return it back down (don't let go). Do all 6, re-tune to pitch and repeat twice more. The guitar should now be reasonably stable, and certainly after playing through a song for a couple of minutes and re-tuning should then be ready for use on stage.

Some makers recommend that you don't stretch their strings, but I've not noticed a difference in life-span (yes, I've tried it both ways).
I do this. I second the 3-turns rule. String slippage can really hurt attempts to keep solid tuning.

I also put a 'bend' in my wound strings at the very end before cutting off the excess. The physics is that the core can sometimes 'slip' during playing later. Putting a bend before cutting the excess of your strings can help reduce that possibility.

Too many loops/turns can cause frictions between the loops and can store up built-up tension that released during playing. This causes the strings to drop in pitch after playing. Too few loops and the string can slip out. I personally don't think half a turn is enough.

Note: I think Planet Waves and Schaller have some non-locking system that crimps the strings. In that case too it wouldn't be necessary. I think Planet Waves is called the 'Auto-Trim':
I wish I could vote twice.

But you said "I don't think half a turn is enough", not "I know half a turn isn't enough". I'm guessing you haven't tried it. On the other hand, I've been doing it for several years now and half a turn (perhaps even 3/4 turn) is more than enough except on the G where I sometimes end up with 1.5 turns and the steels where 1.5 is pretty normal. I'm sure string gauge affects this - I use lights. Extra lights would warrant some more turn. But I don't have string slippage and I don't have string breakage.

Caveat - I'm doing this on my two Taylors with Grover standard tuners and a Guild Starfire with the same Grover tuners. My Strat has locking tuners, so hardly even a half wrap is required there. Perhaps the tuners make the difference?

You should give it a try - start with around one turn if you're not comfortable. Free yourself from the myth and slavery of having to wind your strings so much! You might even find that it stays in tune better and strings break-in sooner.
I'm too polite - half a turn is not enough. You're recommending bad technique, and I strongly suggest others do not follow your recommendations.

Is that less ambiguous?
I was talking to Wayne specifically, you weren't ambiguous.

But specifically, have you ever tried it? How about one turn?

Since I've been doing this on several guitars for the past five (or more) years, I'm reporting good success and better performance overall.

So are you suggesting that I'm making all of this up? That's the ultimate conclusion you're leading to. And not even room to even try it...come on, just try it.
I've tried it. I have a set of Wilkinson EZ-lock machines on a strat, where there are 2 sets of holes that allow you to lock the strings by threading through twice at different angles. By the time you've tuned to pitch there's a half turn or so. I quickly got fed up with string breakages - but I'm a heavy handed player. Maybe if you just caress them they last longer?

Sorry about the sharp tone - I was on the way out, and didn't read back through a second time. Make of my comment what you will, but when I changed strings every week or 2 and played out more I would change a set before the sound check, stretch and tune a couple of times, they'd be good to go for the set. When I do change, it's often in the half hour before I leave for church - as above.

Most tuning issues are down to badly cut nuts and a failure to stretch the strings in. Electronic tuners have fixed the 'un-tunable G' syndrome.
You've tried it on acoustics? I'm curious what guitars / machines and what strings.

I don't know anything about the Wilkinsons, but I have Locking Schallers on my Strat and no breakage problems beyond the norm. I think they have a ball bearing surface which eliminates bends around sharp edges. And the breaks that have occurred weren't at the post but at the bridge.

I can send a picture of the acoustics if you like...
I guess I'm a about a "one wrap" guy. I have never had trouble breaking, slipping or staying in-tune doing this.
All myth my friend. Granted, sometimes I end up with a whole wrap, but no more than that except on the plain steels. You should give it a try!

The common wisdom implies that you need all those wraps to keep the string tight and to minimize breakage. I can assure you that these things don't happen to me. I think most people have always followed the common wisdom and never asked if it actually makes a difference. But if you really study it, you will realize that minimizing the number of friction surfaces along the string path is better and especially on the post. And over wrapping to lock the string in place is just adding to the problem. You don't need it! This is especially true for electric guitars.

I changed my method about 5 years ago and find that I stay in tune better and longer, break no more strings (maybe even less!), have less problems with nut-creep when tuning and generally get shorter break-in times. My G string isn't nearly as temperamental as most people find and I spend no time at all changing strings. Extra wraps are just a waste of time and a way to sell more "winders".

Of course the heavier the gauge one uses, the fewer wraps are needed.

Agree on stretching, but not quite some much on the method. I prefer a method that doesn't pull up from the fingerboard, but instead uses a pinch between your thumb and two other fingers up and down the fretboard. The idea is to create a more even stretch along the length of the string and not stress the bridge from a direction it wasn't designed to support. I have no scientific proof that either works better, but even if they are the same, I can't stand the idea of pulling my strings up like that...
A couple of days before a gig should be fine if not the night before. I've often changed strings on Saturday night with no issues. If you know how to stretch them properly, you should be able to get through a set on Sunday morning without issues.
Ok, after Toni's post, I'm not sure if we're dealing with bass or acoustic guitar. And I'm not sure from the time of your last change either, although the strings you mention are acoustic. Are we dealing with acoustic guitar or bass?

Assuming you mean acoustic guitar:

How are you getting so many months out of those strings? Did I miss something? Are they coated? I use EXP coated strings and I change them every 3 months or so. If I was using your brand of strings, I would have to change them every 3 weeks or less. I generally wait until they get tarnished and seem to sound dull.

If you want longer life with good tone, use quality coated strings like EXPs from D'Addario or Cleartones. They will cost 2-3 times more at the outset, but will last 5-8 times longer whilst maintaining good tone the whole time. Elixirs are popular too and I have used them in the past, but the coating tends to flake off and go bad faster than the other two I mentioned. Also, the high E and B are not coated, so they rust just as fast as plain strings.


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